The Unexpected Upgrade

Today I have a special guest here on the blog, my head coach, Danielle Beckmann!  An actress, producer, podcast host of the popular Brooklyn Quarter, and all around incredible artist, she is a powerhouse helping our clients to go full time with their art. Today, she’s here for you to share how she took a highly embarrassing situation and turned it into am amazing opportunity:)  Enjoy!

“You’ve just been upgraded.”

Ahhh, what sweet music to the ears!

We all love upgrades, don’t we?

Imagine a moment where you’re about to fly cross country and the gate attendant tells you you’ve been upgraded at no extra cost. Nothing. Nada. All you have to do is stand there and accept this first-class gift.

What do you do?
Do you accept it freely and smile, sit in your comfy seat and order a mimosa?
Or do you fumble, stutter, and make excuses while delaying the check-in line?

Really, what would you do, <<First Name>>?

I have found that sometimes as artists we are so consumed with giving our gifts to the world that it’s hard for us to accept a free gift when it comes our way.

But what if free gifts were a regular thing? 

What if it was possible to receive a gift and accept it with deep joy and gratitude–no strings attached?

I very recently had to put this concept into action in my own life. One month ago I had the privilege of attending the 73rd Annual Tony Awards. I was chosen to be a volunteer seat filler at the prestigious show, and when the day finally came, I couldn’t have been more excited.

I joined the buzzing crowd filing into Radio City Music Hall and sat in the back of the orchestra to receive instructions. As I went to take my comfortably velvety seat, I heard a ‘reeeeeep’ and suddenly felt the fabric of my dress give way.

Something was not right. After feeling around and assessing the situation, I found out the awful truth: my vintage dress had ripped. And this was not a small rip. It was a 6 inch rip right up the center back seam of my dress.

All the negative thoughts flooded my mind:
“How am I going to stand up and sit down all night filling seats for celebrities in this condition!?”
“This is so embarrassing!”
“Can everyone see my spanx!? Will Bryan Cranston see my spanx!?!?”

After this moment of upset and overwhelm, I took a breath and something magical happened. I started to giggle. And the giggles turned into chuckling, and the chuckling turned into laughing.

I took another big, deep breath and surrendered to the night. Wherever it wanted to take me, whatever it wanted to say to me, I was game. I surrendered and decided to go with the flow.

Moments before the pre-show began, I was placed in a third row seat next to Laura Linney, Jeff Daniels, and Michael Kors. Before I knew it, James Corden was on stage, and the show had begun! At each commercial break I anticipated the signal from an usher to tell me to give up my seat…but it never happened. They never moved me. Apparently the person who was supposed to sit in Row CC Seat 509 couldn’t make it. I ended up sitting in the third row for the entire evening!

I got to soak in the energy, the talent, and the vibrancy of the awards, including the quirky moments during commercial breaks. I saw friends on stage, and friends in the audience too.The surrender led to flow and the flow led me to a place I never imagined. And where did I find myself?
Receiving an upgrade.

And, boy, did I take it gratefully!

If you feel stagnant and out of place in your artistic journey, as if your metaphorical dress has ripped, I want to encourage you: keep persevering, keep showing up.

Examine the places you are stuck, take a deep breath, and surrender them one step at a time today.


It might just lead you to an upgrade you weren’t expecting.

Waving Through a Window

On the outside, always looking in
Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?
‘Cause I’m tap, tap, tapping on the glass
I’m waving through a window
I try to speak, but nobody can hear
So I wait around for an answer to appear
While I’m watch, watch, watching people pass
I’m waving through a window, oh
Can anybody see, is anybody waving back at me?

Have you ever felt this?
Feeling isolated and alone, watching life pass by?

Last week I sat transfixed watching Dear Evan Hansen, the Tony award Broadway musical, and every morning when I wake, all I hear in my head is,
I’m waving through a window,
Can anybody see?

And I knew I had to write to you about it.

I’ve been waiting to see this show for over a year.  It’s the hottest ticket on Broadway right now, rising in acclaim from a loyal fan base, and winning the Grammy for best album.But, what surprised me most was, I actually didn’t know what the show was about.

Somehow from some past conversation, I had thought the show was about bullying, so as I sat in the audience during pre-show, and watched the screens showing constant social media feeds, I thought,
Right…the effect of social media on teens….cyber bullying.

Then, the show began, and it was all too clear this was not about bullying.

The show is actually about teenage suicide and depression.

Not exactly what you would expect from a Broadway musical, right?
Aren’t musicals about happy people, dancing, and bursting into uplifting songs?

Why do so many people relate to this musical?
Why is it able to command some of the highest ticket prices and sell out every night?

Throughout the theater, the sound I heard was tears…crying….sniffling. And at the end, the entire audience was on their feet.

I’m waving through a window, oh
Can anybody see, is anybody waving back at me?

 

I slam my dance clothes into my bag, holding back tears as I feel the hot sting of embarrassment.

I’ve been cut again.
It’s not fair.

I look at all the women being kept to sing, mourning my lost opportunity.
My voice is warm, I have my best song with me, and yet it doesn’t matter. They don’t want to hear me sing.

This won’t be my show. This won’t be my opportunity, and it’s back to another audition.

I see my colleagues, friends, all booking their Broadway show.  I feel like screaming,
Give me my CHANCE! Please!

On the outside, always looking in
Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?

And I jam my headphones into my ears, and walk out onto the city street.  I’m getting older, I’ve been professionally performing for over 15 years….and the question arises in me,
Will this ever happen?

Can anybody see, is anybody waving back at me?

 

Three years later, I slam the bathroom door, and slide down the wall, curling into the smallest ball possible.
I feel the heat pipe behind me, and wonder if I hold my hand to it, would it burn?

Then I look at the bathroom window, and wonder,
can I squeeze through it?

This bathroom is three stories up……

I’m losing this home anyway.
I’m losing this marriage…..I’m losing this life.

Could I fit through the window?
And then, would all the pain I feel pass?

For a moment, I stare at the window and consider, and then I come back.  I come back to the fact my entire life is falling apart.  My husband is leaving me.  I’m not getting pregnant.  Everything I had planned has slipped through my fingers.

I feel the pain, and realize I’m still breathing. And I realize I want to live. 

I want a devoted husband.
I want a family.
I want a life in the arts that fulfills me.

And I realize it’s not happening here….it’s been crying out for years, and now the truth is here.

And I take a breath, wipe my tears….and get up.

And I start to speak….
I start to ask for help…
I start to write about all that has been trapped inside me.

And the biggest surprise of all?
People listen.
People come close.

And I realize, I’ve been WRONG all along.

We actually have far more in common than differences.

All my doubts, all my fears, my heartache and vulnerability are actually what I SHARE with others.

I had thought I would be rejected for my vulnerability and people would leave.  Turns out, this is what was missing all along.

 

And the writers of Dear Evan Hansen knew this too.
They knew it intimately.

We actually all just want to be SEEN.
We want to be HEARD.

Starved for connection in our present age…..we deeply want to BELONG.

Dear Evan Hansen isn’t talking about something new.  Teenage depression and suicide have been around for a very long time, but the writers are giving it a VOICE.  They are releasing the shame and stigma around something that millions of families deal with, to offer the simple message,

You are not alone.

As an Artist, the greatest gift you bring to the table is your HUMANITY.  It’s not your perfection….it’s what you share with your audience.

We all cry.
We all feel loss.
We all have hearts that break, and bend, and burst.

And as an Artist, YOU have the ability to translate that.

You have the ability to translate these aspects that can feel so hidden to your audience into,
song
word
visual art
photography
dance

This is your gift. And it allows your audience to touch their humanity, and to open to loving their life.

So, take a breath, and tap in.

Are you sharing your Humanity with your audience?
Are you focused on what you have in common?

Listen, speak to them, and share what you have in common.

That’s when they will listen.

As Evan sings,
Have you ever felt like nobody was there?
Have you ever felt forgotten in the middle of nowhere?
Have you ever felt like you could disappear?
Like you could fall, and no one would hear?

Well, let that lonely feeling wash away
Maybe there’s a reason to believe you’ll be okay
‘Cause when you don’t feel strong enough to stand
You can reach, reach out your hand

And oh, someone will coming running
And I know, they’ll take you home

So let the sun come streaming in
‘Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again
Lift your head and look around
You will be found

 

We are stronger together.
Create your Art from our shared humanity.

Image courtesy of: Seattle Times